Albany, NY - April 20, 2017 - The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today launched the 2017 “No Empty Chair” teen driving safety education and enforcement campaign at Garden City High School. This week-long, statewide campaign, which runs from Monday, April 24 through Friday, April 28, raises awareness of teenage traffic safety issues across New York to ensure there are no empty chairs during prom and graduation season this year.
“Any crash involving a teen is one crash too many,” said Acting GTSC Chair and DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. "By taking the opportunity to actively engage the future generation of the Empire State, we directly place traffic safety knowledge in our young drivers’ hands and stress its impact on saving their lives. This campaign is designed to change the decision-making process of young drivers and make them aware of highway safety issues that impact them as well as those who share the road with them.”
State and local law enforcement will increase their presence in the vicinity of local high schools throughout the statewide campaign, and officers will be vigilant in enforcing violations of the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law, which is designed to provide time for young people to gain critical experience in various traffic scenarios while limiting the number of passengers to reduce distractions. The New York State Department of Health created GTSC-funded pocket guides for law enforcement agencies and others on the GDL in Upstate New York, New York City, and Long Island.
In addition to the kick-off event in Garden City, the campaign will also target specific infractions throughout the week across New York, in addition to enforcing all other vehicle and traffic laws. The target dates are as follows:
Monday, April 24, 2017 – Speeding in school zones
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 – Seatbelts and child restraints
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – Cell phone use and texting
Friday, April 28, 2017 – Underage drinking and impaired driving
GTSC also presented the Partners for Safety Award to the Garden City School District PTA for its contributions in promoting traffic safety awareness. Created in 1996, the Partners for Safety Award recognizes voluntary contributions made by corporations, companies and organizations outside of government to prevent highway crashes and injuries, promote traffic safety, and make New York State a safer place to live. Please read about the program and view GTSC partners who have been honored since the program began.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for U.S. teens. The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research provides the following facts for New York:
Between 2013 and 2015, 10 to 12 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in New York State occurred in crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 20.
Drivers ages 16 and 17 involved in fatal and personal injury crashes in New York State were more likely to be driving with passengers than drivers in all other fatal and personal injury crashes (42 percent versus 29 percent in 2015).
According to 2015 data, in police-reported fatal and personal injury crashes statewide, drivers ages 16 to 20 were much more likely than all drivers to have driver inexperience, unsafe speed, following too closely, failure to yield right-of-way, and driver inattention/distraction reported as contributing factors.
In 2016, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the “No Empty Chair” teen driving safety education and enforcement campaign to raise awareness of highway dangers during prom and graduation season. Law enforcement agencies that have School Resource Officers (SROs) or a presence at high schools within their jurisdictions are also encouraged to conduct outreach this week and throughout the prom and graduation season. As part of the campaign, No Empty Chair posters will be displayed in high-visibility areas in schools. School administrators should contact Sergeant Todd Engwer of the GTSC to request the posters free of charge by emailing him at Todd.Engwer@dmv.ny.gov.
Educators, coaches and school resource officers can click here for additional resources. Younger drivers can click here for DMV resources.